Making news

Direct flights expected to promote Con Dao tourism

Opening more direct flights to Con Dao Island, a tourism hotspot off southern Ba Ria – Vung Tau province, is an opportunity for the tourism destination, experts have said.

Vo Huy Cuong, Deputy Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) told a seminar held in the central province of Thanh Hoa on September 12 that demand to visit Con Dao has been high for many years and is still rising. However, it has been difficult to fly to the island.

Cuong said in addition to flights from HCM City or the southern city of Can Tho to Con Dao, visitors could travel by boat, but it takes at least nine hours from HCM City and four hours from Ba Ria-Vung Tau province in calm sea conditions to reach the tourism site.

Con Dao Airport is located on the island and investing in lights for night operation is difficult due to weather and environmental conditions. It is not allowed to operate 24 hours a day, making flights only available during the day.

Vietnam Air Services Company (VASCO), a subsidiary of Vietnam Airlines, is the only airline currently operating regular flights to the island, flying from HCM City and Can Tho. It can carry up to 68 passengers per flight.

Bamboo Airways will launch new direct flights from Hanoi, Hai Phong and Vinh to Con Dao from September 29.

“It is a great effort to reach a maximum of 24 visits to Con Dao per day. Bamboo Airways' three non-stop flights to Con Dao will meet the need of spiritual tourism, assist in solving problems about take-off time at Tan Son Nhat International Airport. It will also help serve the increasing travel demand and reduce travel time and gas consumption for connecting flights,” he added.

Dang Tat Thang, Vice Chairman cum General Director of Bamboo Airways, said the company's goal since its establishment has been to connect localities with few flights.

Thang said his first trip to the island took 12 hours as he had to fly from HCM City.

Bamboo Airways struggled to open the routes in the past as the airline had previously considered using an Airbus A319 aircraft for the flight. However, the airport's runway needed to be extended.

During a business trip, he experienced the new generation of the Embraer 195 jet and was very impressed. With the approval of the CAAV, Bamboo Airways took six months to deploy this route. The airline will use the Embraer E195 jet on the route, transporting 124 passengers each flight.

“According to statistics from the CAAV, up to 90 percent of tourists visiting Con Dao are people from the northern region as the island is famous for spiritual tourism. That was why Bamboo Airways chose Hanoi, Hai Phong and Vinh - the three cities with the largest population in the north to open the direct flights,” he said.

Trinh Hang, Director of the Department of Tourism of Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, said that in the past, tourists had to fly to Con Dao by helicopter, which was very expensive. Since the airport was built in 2004, at the peak, despite there were 26 weekend flights and 5-8 flights on weekdays, yet many tourists still complained of not being able to buy tickets.

“With the new route of Bamboo Airways, tourists from the north can travel more conveniently, without having to connect from HCM City or Can Tho. The locality has been trying to develop infrastructure. Currently, a lot of investors are working to provide better services to tourists. The province has also calculated a plan for sustainable tourism development and considering development but still retains the ecosystem,” Hang said.

According to Dinh Ngoc Duc, Director of the Tourism Market Department under Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNTA), Con Dao’s tourism potential is enormous as the number of tourists coming to the island has increased by 400 percent in the last few years despite the lack of flights and poor traffic infrastructure. With the three new routes, he assessed that more tourists would come thanks to the convenience.

He also expressed his wish to develop Con Dao sustainably, attracting visitors, but not at all costs to protect the island.

“The three new routes of Bamboo Airways together with other provinces are the starting point of the second stimulus tourism programme in the last months of the year. VNTA will accompany airlines, destinations and enterprise in the programme,” he said.

Trinh Van Quyet, Chairman of FLC Group and Bamboo Airways, said being people doing business in the aviation and tourism sectors want to help tourism flourish again.

FLC proposed Ba Ria-Vung Tau province and the Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) approve funding to install lights at Con Dao Airport to allow the airport to increase flight capacity at night.

At the forum, many travel firms said they expected the tourist market to Con Dao to thrive thanks to the new direct flights and that they would work with Bamboo Airways to offer package tours.

In 2019, Con Dao welcomed nearly 400,000 tourists, up 37 percent compared to 2018.